The many investigative articles by the Los Angeles Times over the past two years have been superb. And the recent articles about the problems with the heart, liver and kidney transplant program both locally and nationally are no exception... as far as they go.
The problem I have, though, is that the real problem is NOT how the few organs which are harvested each year are distributed - but the shame that far more organs go unharvested each year.
If the media would instead look into how sufficient organs could be harvested each year to render waiting lists and tough allocation decisions unnecessary - then the problems addressed in this articles would vanish.
So why doesn't the Los Angeles Times and the rest of the MSM use its bully pulpit to research what needs to be done and then advocate making those changes? Thousands of lives could be saved each year if this problem was adequately addressed and solved.
More on this latter - but below is the opening of Sunday's article:
TRANSPLANT INEQUALITY A TIMES SPECIAL REPORT
Death by Geography
Patients' chances of getting new organs in time to save their lives vary vastly based on where they live. The situation is most dire for people needing livers.
By Alan Zarembo Times Staff Writer June 11, 2006
In the world of organ transplantation, location is everything. After waiting more than a decade for a liver, Jonathan Van Vlack was deteriorating. His gut swelled with fluid, and toxins accumulating in his blood made him forget his own name. Still, he wasn't sick enough — not in New York, where about 2,000 people statewide were vying for the same scarce livers."
He's having a very difficult time right now," his wife, Laura, nervously e-mailed a friend in March 2005. "We really need that liver to come." It never did. Van Vlack died in December, on his 53rd birthday.
Frank Evanac was stalled in the same line. By age 53, he had been waiting four years for a liver, and he needed a kidney as well. After getting a tip at a Fourth of July party, however, he gave up on New York. Without telling his doctors, he moved in with his sister outside Jacksonville, Fla., and joined a new waiting list.
Fourteen days later, a surgeon sewed in his new liver and kidney. Two very sick men. Two locations. Two fates.